Pro Talk: Nighttime Snook Fishing in SW FL

by Capt. Ross Gallagher


Ft. Myers, FL


Daytime snook fishing can be rewarding but this is when it is often the smaller fish that are the most active., but if you want to target the largest fish in the area, the night bite is where it is at. During late night hours, snook will congregate en masse around any lighted structure near their typical daytime haunts.  The most productive areas will have deep water nearby and good tidal flow.


Before hitting the water, make sure to check the tide schedule. The most effective time to be fishing will be when the tide is moving the strongest. Take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with what fish are swimming in the artificially-lit waters.  I try to mimic the baits that I see the snook feeding on. This is when you want to utilize large soft plastics, like Hogy soft plastics.




For night fishing I really like the 9inch Skinny in bone or black. Make sure you check your knots and your drag after rigging. When targeting these monster snook, everything must be in perfect shape to have a good chance of pulling them out. I like to tighten the drag to about 15 pounds, and palm the spool during a hard run, using the rod to steer the fish away from structure.


I prefer a heavy spinning rod paired with a high quality reel that has a smooth drag. I like to spool up with 65 pound test braided line, and attach a six foot section of 80 pound test fluorocarbon leader.


I like to position myself to cast up-current or across current, placing the bait outside of the lights and then working it into the light. I will hold the rod at 9 o’ clock and twitch the bait enough to create the “S” Pattern and swim the bait into the strike zone. Depending on the velocity of the current, slow or speed up your presentation to maintain  the action. I seldom need to let the bait sink deeper than 12 inches below the surface.


Begin working the bait as soon as it hits the water. If the fish are not responding to a quick retrieve, try “dead sticking” the bait through the light, reeling the slack in as it washes down current. This technique can be very productive and exciting as well. Even when you are not twitching the bait, minute ripples are moving through the bait, teasing those snook into biting.

  • Once you have a strike, wait just a moment and come tight on the slack line. Make sure the fish is on the hook, so when you set the hook you don’t pull it away from the fish. Many times, the snook will swat at the bait on the first strike, and them inhale it on the second or third. Watching a huge snook chase and inhale a large bait worked on the surface can be the most exciting action around!
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